Good news for Amazon Prime members: You’re now one step closer to being able to have your packages delivered by a drone.
Amazon announced Monday that it will partner with the United Kingdom’s government to test new methods of drone delivery. Along with the UK Civil Aviation Authority, Amazon will research operations beyond line of sight in rural and suburban areas, test sensor performance to ensure that drones can recognize and avoid obstacles, and experiment with single-man operation of multiple drones.
“Using small drones for the delivery of parcels will improve customer experience, create new jobs in a rapidly growing industry, and pioneer new sustainable delivery methods to meet future demand,” said Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global innovation policy and communications, in a statement. The company’s proposed Prime Air program will not only improve customers’ experience, but also create jobs, Misener said.
Prime Air has been in the works since 2013, but the Federal Aviation Administration has made the retail giant test its program abroad. In March 2015, Amazon received permission to test the drones in the U.S., with several stipulations, including that the drone must remain in sight of the operator, under 400 feet, and that testing should be limited to the daylight hours.
In January, the online retail giant released detailed plans for Prime Air, promising that customers would receive their packages in 30 minutes and that it would be able to deliver parcels between five and 55 pounds, CNET reported.
Amazon is one of several companies testing drone delivery. Domino’s tested pizza delivery way back in 2013, Google plans drone deliveries by 2017, and Walmart has begun testing them inside its warehouses to help manage inventory. On July 11, a 7-11 customer in Reno, Nevada got a chicken sandwich, donuts, coffee, candy and slurpees delivered by drone startup Flirtey. And earlier this year, Germany’s postal service Deutsche Post completed a 3-month test in which postal customers in the Bavarian Village of Reit im Winkl received deliveries by drone — making it the first postal service to do so.